US1 | Advancing Measurements and Observations in the Geosciences
Advancing Measurements and Observations in the Geosciences
Convener: Nick Everard | Co-conveners: Bertrand Le Saux, Kirk Martinez
| Mon, 15 Apr, 16:15–18:00 (CEST)
Room E1
Mon, 16:15
Measurements and observations are essential to the development and advancement of understanding in the geosciences. Measurements are also critical to the detection and quantification of long term change and short term hazards, at a time when non-stationarity in Earth systems is increasing and extreme events are occurring daily. For many regions and domains however, observational networks are lacking, while the need for information is increasing due to growing human populations, intensifying geopolitical pressures and Earth’s rapidly changing climate.
Happily, at a time where the need for observational information is greatest, so too are the opportunities. New observational tools ranging from advanced spaceborne sensors delivering global high resolution data, to a proliferation of ultra-low-cost sensors all present new opportunities. High performance computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data assimilation can streamline workflows and deliver new insights from novel and established sources. The re-analysis of historical records, often through shared effort, can improve understanding of past events and conditions. The opportunistic repurposing of existing sensor technologies is leading to exciting and cost-effective new opportunities for monitoring and observations.
To ensure the long term success of the geosciences, and the health of our planet, it is imperative that advances in measurement science continue and that knowledge and information is shared effectively within our community, and beyond.
The hosts and invited speakers from a range of science and technology disciplines in this Union-wide session will showcase the most exciting advances in measurement, monitoring and observational tools and data systems, and look to the future to see what new possibilities exist. We will explore how innovations from outside of the geoscience domain can bring benefit to our work and how our community can drive the development of new tools and techniques.
The speakers will explore pathways and obstacles to innovation, and help the audience identify opportunities to advance observational methods across the geosciences.
The session will energise the community to realise the unprecedented opportunities that now exist, and will be of interest and relevance to everyone obtaining or using measurements and observations across all scientific divisions.

And remember, making measurements is always more fun…!

We are delighted to welcome some exceptional speakers to this union-wide interdisciplinary session that aims to showcase the latest advances and possibilities in measurements and observations in the geosciences. If you are interested in measurements and measurement technologies, make sure you attend!

The speakers are: 

•         Klaus Scipal – Mission Manager, Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) and Biomass missions, European Space Agency (ESA)

•         Rosemary Morrow – CNAP oceanographer at Laboratoire d'Études en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS), and the French Observation Service CTOH. Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) Oceanography Science Lead.

•         Michael Wollersheim – Director of Analytics, ICEYE. Persistent Earth monitoring with radar satellite imaging, manufacturers of satellite systems, and solutions for government.

•         Prof. Remko Uijlenhoet: Professor of Hydrology & Water Resource, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology

Following short presentations from the speakers, the session will have a panel discussion format and will invite questions from the audience. 

Session assets

Orals: Mon, 15 Apr | Room E1

Chairpersons: Nick Everard, Bertrand Le Saux, Kirk Martinez
On-site presentation
Rosemary Morrow, Lee-Lueng Fu, J. Thomas Farrar, Tamlin Pavelsky, and Jean-Francois Cretaux

The NASA/CNES international Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission was launched in December 2022 to provide the first global survey of the Earth’s surface waters. The fundamental advancement of SWOT is the capability to observe the elevation of the ocean and terrestrial surface waters with the resolution of SAR imagery.  The 2D spatial resolution is more than an order of magnitude better than conventional satellite altimetry, enabling the study of water storage and exchange from millions of small-scale lakes, rivers and floodplains, as well as observing the small-scale ocean eddies and fronts that are essential to the ocean’s heat and carbon uptake from the atmosphere. The increased resolution will also advance the study of nearshore processes to assess the coastal impact of sea level rise, flooding and severe weather. SWOT’s global coverage up to 78° in latitude allows enhanced observation of the ocean circulation and sea-ice dynamics in the rapidly-changing polar oceans.

During the first 6 months of the mission, SWOT was in a 1-day fast-repeat orbit, firstly for engineering checkout and then for scientific validation. This provided a unique data set to explore the rapid evolution of the small-scale dynamics and water storage and exchange. From mid-July 2023 onwards, SWOT has provided global coverage in its 21-day orbit, and will continue for a minimum of 3 years. Numerous field campaigns were conducted in 2023 to validate SWOT in the open ocean, nearshore and coastal regions, and over the lakes and rivers sampled by SWOT’s repeat orbits.

SWOT’s unique, high-resolution 2D observations of water elevation and SAR imagery, combined with field campaign data, and other satellite data and models, provide a new vision of many small-scale dynamical phenomena: from ocean and nearshore zones (mesoscale eddies, dynamical fronts, tides and internal tides, effects of air-sea interactions) to coastal and estuarine contexts (tidal deformation, multi-scale water level changes, flooding) and the global freshwater water storage and exchange between lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Yet the rapid changes of the ocean and inland waters revealed by the 1-day repeat data pose a challenge to the analysis of the 21-day repeat data from the global mapping phase of the mission.  New mapping techniques are required to enable us to retain the small-scale, rapidly-evolving structures that are observed as snapshots during the global 21-day sampling phase. The SWOT mission team are reaching out to machine learning, data inversion and assimilation specialists to help us reap the rewards from a wealth of new global information about the Earth’s surface waters. Finally, SWOT is the first global mission demonstrating excellent results with SAR-Interferometry, paving the way for future planned operational missions in the 2030s (eg Copernicus Sentinel-3 Next Generation Topography missions).

How to cite: Morrow, R., Fu, L.-L., Farrar, J. T., Pavelsky, T., and Cretaux, J.-F.: The first global survey of the Earth’s surface waters with the SWOT satellite mission, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-13060,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Remko Uijlenhoet

Microwave links from cellular communication networks have been proposed as an opportunistic source of environmental (notably atmospheric) data more than two decades ago. The first scientific studies demonstrating the potential of this ground-based remote sensing technique for precipitation monitoring, in particular for areas around the world were dedicated rainfall observation networks are sparse, were published more than 15 years ago. Since then, a small but dedicated community of scientists and engineers working at universities, national meteorological services, consulting companies, mobile network operators and telecommunication equipment manufacturers has been making significant progress in turning this promise into a reality. In the meantime, numerous papers and reports have been published, conference presentations have been given and courses have been delivered. However, real-time access to high-resolution environmental information from commercial microwave link networks over large continental areas is still a dream. How far have we come after more than 20 years of research and development? What does the future have in stall for the geosciences and their applications? What should be done to turn this dream into an operational reality? This presentation will attempt to provide some preliminary answers to these questions by reviewing the current status and future directions in the field of environmental monitoring using wireless communication networks.

How to cite: Uijlenhoet, R.: Environmental Monitoring using Wireless Communication Networks: Current Status and Future Directions, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-19792,, 2024.

On-site presentation
Klaus Scipal

Measurements and observations are essential to the development and advancement of understanding in the geosciences. Measurements are also critical to the detection and quantification of long term change and short term hazards, at a time when non-stationarity in Earth systems is increasing and extreme events are occurring daily. For many regions and domains however, observational networks are lacking, while the need for information is increasing due to growing human populations, intensifying geopolitical pressures and Earth’s rapidly changing climate.

Through FutureEO, a series of world-class research satellite missions, the Earth Explorers, are realised. Since the successful launch of the first Earth Explorer in 2009, these missions, which are proposed by the scientific community, continue to demonstrate how breakthrough technology can deliver an astounding range of scientific findings about our planet. They lead to the scientific excellence that is critical to addressing the challenges society faces today and is expected to face in the decades to come – from understanding different aspects in the climate system such as atmospheric dynamics and ice melt, to societal issues such as food security and freshwater resources. Importantly, Earth Explorers also provide sound heritage for developing operational missions. For instance, some of the highly successful current suite of Copernicus Sentinel missions and the future Copernicus Sentinel Expansion missions would simply not be possible without the technology and application opportunities demonstrated by the Earth Explorers.

This talk will present the FutureEO programme and its opportunities to advance our measurement capabilities in the geoscience. It will present the family of Earth Explorer satellites and future planned missions, highlighting their scientific goals and objectives. Based on lessons learned it will also discuss the challenges of launching first of its kind measurement systems and related science activities.

How to cite: Scipal, K.: ESA’s Earth Explorer Satellites – Advancing Measurement Capabilities in the Geoscience through the FutureEO Programme., EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-11041,, 2024.

Presentation form not yet defined
Michael Wollersheim

The Earth is facing increasingly frequent natural disasters and environmental changes that require continually advancing techniques to observe, measure, understand and respond to. For decades, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data has provided a critical input for scientists, engineers and analysts seeking to gain a better understanding of the processes that occur before, during and after an event. Although some processes are slowly evolving, taking months or even years to accumulate significant change, it is the critical moments just prior to an event and onward that often require data more frequently than it is available. Similarly, some earth processes simply develop too quickly to be captured with a revisit rate of several days or weeks.

A new paradigm is emerging in earth observation, enabled by the proliferation of SAR sensors in orbit that can be combined to provide daily and even sub-daily coherent revisit rates. Along with these new satellite missions come advances in sensor technology providing enhanced modes of SAR imaging. Among these is long-dwell imaging that provides considerably richer information and perhaps most interestingly, the ability to produce SAR videos, capturing changes as they occur. 

This talk will present highlights from our experience utilizing the ICEYE SAR constellation in real earth science and natural catastrophe scenarios where rapid revisit or long-dwell were key enabling factors. By showing a glimpse into these dynamic processes as they unfold, we hope to inspire a new way of thinking about SAR data and challenge the conventional wisdom about what problems can and cannot be solved using SAR. It’s clear that we are only scratching the surface and that there remain many new things we can learn.

How to cite: Wollersheim, M.: Keeping up with a fast changing world with rapid-revisit and long-dwelling SAR observations, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-22578,, 2024.



  • Rosemary Morrow, CNRS/CNES/UPS/IRD, France
  • Remko Uijlenhoet, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
  • Klaus Scipal, European Space Agency, Italy
  • Michael Wollersheim, ICEYE, Finland